Adalah and ACRI oppose new bill that broadens grounds to revoke citizenship

"The right to citizenship is the most important of all rights, as it encompasses many other constitutional rights."

On 15 February 2016, Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter to the Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Interior, Attorney Yehuda Singer, demanding that the government not promote a bill that allows for the revocation of citizenship of an individual in absentia. According to the proposed bill, the Interior Ministry can cancel the citizenship of an individual who is abroad and cannot be located, if there is concern that entry into Israel would endanger national security.


Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher and ACRI Attorney Oded Feller argued in the letter that the right to citizenship is one of the most important constitutional rights: "The right to citizenship is considered the most important of all rights, as it encompasses a bundle of other constitutional rights – the right to enter the country, exemption from deportation, the right to work, the right to health and welfare services, the right to vote and so on." The status of this right has been recognized by the Israeli Supreme Court in a petition to cancel the citizenship of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir: "The court expressed reservations about the brutal murder but did not revoke the citizenship of Amir, not because of the dignity of the killer but for the sake of the right. The court emphasized that, 'Citizenship is a fundamental right. This is accepted in international law...there is no doubt that it is one of the fundamental rights, among other things because it includes the fundamental right to vote for the Knesset, which is the source of democracy.'"


Adalah and ACRI further contended that, in addition to expanding the Interior Minister’s authority to cancel citizenship, the power to cancel the citizenship of a person when he/she is outside of the country adds to numerous other harms: "The proposed bill violates the constitutional right of every citizen to enter Israel, enshrined in Article 6 of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. It deepens the constitutional defects of the many steps that already exist in the process of revocation in the Citizenship Law, such as reliance on secret evidence ex parte, and departs from the rules of evidence, by allowing a court to conduct such proceedings in absentia of the person. It allows the denial of the fundamental right of due process to participate in the proceeding on the basis of unproven 'concerns' or speculative risks of future security, and does not meet the standard of evidence required for such a serious violation of fundamental rights – clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence."


Read the letter (Hebrew)